Every-Thing Sports

D'Eriq King to leave UH...possibly

Photo via Houston Cougar Football/Facebook

*Editor's note: King now plans to redshirt this season and return to UH in 2020, per Joseph Duarte.

In a complete shocker, University of Houston record-breaking quarterback D'Eriq King is set to redshirt the remainder of the year and transfer from the program. Houston Chronicle's Joseph Duarte first broke the news of King sitting out the remainder of the year via redshirt. Then Fox 26's Mark Berman confirmed with King's father that his son would indeed be transferring to another school in order to play his redshirt senior season. However, his father said his decision won't be final until this evening, possibly after 5pm because he hasn't talked to Coach Dana Holgorsen. With the Cougars starting the season 1-3, it's totally understandable why King is not wanting to waste his last year of eligibility. What are some other factors we should consider surrounding King's decision?

Wasted season

A 1-3 start isn't ideal. The prospects of King being able to salvage anything from this season in order to show enough good tape to get drafted are very low. The team is still getting acclimated to Holgorsen's system. Even though it has spread looks, it's more run-based at a slower tempo than what the Coogs have been used to over the last 10 plus years or so.

Draft prospects

With Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray going back to back in winning the Heisman and getting drafted number one overall, King has an outside shot to get drafted pretty high if he shows the same sort of skill. Smaller and/or more athletic quarterbacks have slowly but surely shot down the stigma that they can't play at the next level. The NFL is a copycat league. Everyone will be looking for the next Mayfield, Murray, or Lamar Jackson and King could be it.

Time and opportunity

With the NCAA Transfer Portal giving guys the chance to seek playing time and opportunities in a situation more favorable to them, King is simply taking advantage of the system. It's about damn time the "student-athletes" have a way to take advantage of a system that has long taken advantage of them. What if Jalen Hurts does what his OU predecessors did by winning a Heisman and getting drafted number one overall? Would King want to follow in their footsteps? He'd be a fool not to. Lincoln Riley has already been dubbed the QB whisperer with how he helped Mayfield and Murray. He's on pace to do the same, or similar, with Hurts. King could be the next man up in Riley's QB transfer to NFL pipeline.

All things considered, this is what's best for all parties involved. The Coogs are in for a tough season, and King wants to take full advantage of his last year to maximize his NFL potential. Holgorsen gets to recruit other transfers and true freshmen at the position that'll be given the chance to come in and compete with guys currently on the roster. What if the next man up on the roster now that King is out proves to be a revelation? Chances are pretty slim of that happening, but you never know. Now Holgorsen gets to look at his team and see what all the needs are going into the offseason and recruit to fill them with his type of guys. Let's hope it works out for all those involved.

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Mattress Mack and the Astros host Pearland Little League at Wednesday night's game. Photo by LittleLeague.org

Sure, it’s impressive that the Astros have made four World Series appearances in recent years, but they’re not alone. There’s another baseball team around here that’s also headed to its fourth World Series since 2010.

Pearland defeated Oklahoma, 9-4, on Tuesday to win the Southwest Regional and qualify for the Little League World Series starting Aug. 17 in South Williamsport, PA.

Most fans and media say the Little League World Series is held in Williamsport, but it’s South Williamsport, just a 5-minute stroll across a bridge over the Susquehanna River in north central Pennsylvania.

Pearland is on a torrid 13-game winning streak that swept through district, sectional, state and regional tournaments to earn the Little League World Series bid.

Here’s how difficult the road to the Little League World Series is. There are 15 teams in MLB’s American League. If the Astros finish with one of the two best records, they’ll have to win two playoff series to play in the World Series.

Little League is a little bigger than MLB. Little League is the largest youth sports organization in the world, with 2.5 million kids playing for 180,000 teams in more than 100 countries on six continents.

Pearland, representing East Texas, had to defeat All-Star teams from West Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana, New Mexico, Arkansas and Colorado to win the Southwest Regional. The Little League World Series will host 20 teams - 10 from the U.S. and 10 from international regions.

If you have children that play Little League, or you’re just a fan, attending the Little League World Series should be high on your baseball bucket list.

I covered the Little League World Series in 2010 when Pearland made its first appearance and made it all the way to the U.S. championship game. It may have been my most fun assignment ever.

The Little League World Series is played by 11 and 12-year-olds in Little League’s major division. When ESPN and ABC air these games, they’ll present the players as innocent little kids, like Beaver and Wally or Tom and Huck. They’ll show the kids playing Simon Says with the Little League mascot called Dugout. They’ll ask the kids who’s their favorite big leaguer.

I was a Little League coach. I followed Little League All-Stars across Texas all the way to South Williamsport. These kids are absolute baseball maniacs with $400 gloves, $500 bats and Oakley sunglasses. I thought the Astros might call and ask where they got their super neat equipment.

Especially in Texas, these kids are built tough with long ball power and play year-round travel baseball with high-priced private coaches. This isn’t a choose-up game in the park where kids play in their school clothes, one kid brings a baseball and the players share bats. I looked at some of the Little Leaguers and wondered if they drove to the stadium.

I half-expected, when ABC asked who their baseball idol was, they’d answer “me!”

Here’s how seriously good these kids can play the game. Justin Verlander throws a 97-mph fastball. That’s pretty fast. It’s not rare anymore for a Little League pitcher to reach 70-mph on a fastball. The Little League mound is 46 feet from home plate. A 70-mph pitch in Little League gets to home plate in the same time as a 91-mph pitch from 60 feet 6 inches in MLB.

In 2015, a pitcher named Alex Edmonson fired an 83-mph heater at the Little League World Series. The reaction time a Little League batter had against Alex’s pitch was equal to a Major Leaguer trying to hit a 108-mph fastball. Good luck with that. Alex pitched a no-hitter and struck out 15 batters in six innings at the Little League World Series. Now 20, Alex is a relief pitcher for Clemson.

The Little League World Series is a trip. The easiest way to get there is to fly into Philadelphia and drive to South Williamsport. I sat next to CC Sebathia’s mother on the plane.

Admission to all Little League World Series games is free and snack bar prices are reasonable. A hot dog is $3. Alcohol and smoking are prohibited.

The first Little League World Series was held in 1947. Only 58 players have played in the Little League World Series and later played in MLB. The most famous are Cody Bellinger and Jason Varitek. Only two players from the Houston area made the leap: Brady Rodgers and Randal Grichuk both played on the 2003 team from Richmond, about 30 miles from Houston in Fort Bend County.

While you’re in South Williamsport, you should visit the Little League museum and Hall of Excellence. Among the inductees: Presidents Joe Biden and George W. Bush, Astros manager Dusty Baker, Kevin Costner, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dick Vitale, Rob Manfred and someone who’d later play stadiums in a different way, Bruce Springsteen.

Speaking of Springsteen, I shattered a record at the 2010 Little League World Series. The record was Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A. I was talking to a Little League executive while teams were warming up on the field. Born in the U.S.A. came over the stadium loudspeakers.

I told the executive, I’m a big fan but maybe this isn’t the best song you should be playing. The executive asked why not? Well, you might want to listen to the words. Born in the U.S.A. is a depressing song about a U.S. soldier who is sent to Vietnam and can’t find a job when he gets back home. It’s not exactly Yankee Doodle Dandy. You have teams from Asia here (Japan won the tournament that year). The executive said, please tell me you’re kidding. Here’s one verse:

Got in a little hometown jam

So they put a rifle in my hand

Sent me off to a foreign land

To go and kill the (what is considered a slur for Asians).

Later I got an email from the president of Little League International.

“Quite honestly, I've never listened closely to the words of Born in the USA. I see clearly how it is offensive to our Little League friends from Asian nations. I have directed our folks who coordinate the stadium music to discontinue playing it in the future.”

Play Centerfield by John Fogerty instead. The message of that song is, “put me in coach.” Little League couldn’t say it any better.

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